The May Car Update (2008)

  • Comments posted to this topic are about the item The May Car Update (2008)

  • Nice car update Steve.

    I have to say this, but you in America are so lucky, in Europe we pay 10$ per gallon of diesel 🙁 which is 2.5 times higher

    "It takes 15 minutes to learn the game and a lifetime to master"
    "Share your knowledge. It's a way to achieve immortality."

  • We may pay more for fuel in Europe, but we don't have to drive as far. The Prius is doing 25000 miles in 14 months - that's about twice the average mileage for a family car in the UK. I have a family of 5 but we only do around 3000 miles per year! That's because we live and work in a small town were almost everything is within walking distance. My commute to work is a 5 minute cycle ride.

    I've lived in Arizona, and it was impossible to live without driving long distances. Everything was so spaced out. If you really want to save the planet you need to greatly reduce the amount of driving you do, not just drive more efficiently.

  • 100% Electric Vehicles are really not getting the attention they should.

    Doing some research on the GM EV1 produces very compelling information. (And that was using old battery's batteries are even better.) The people who had those cars loved them. There are (or were) websites describing how people put solar shingles on their homes (those that live in generally sunny states) and generated enough electricity to charge their cars, run their home electricals and even have electricity left over to feed back into the grid. How do you beat that for efficiency?

    I never see people discussing the longevity of electric cars. Do you realize that some of the electric motors are warranted for 1 Million Miles? Have you considered that there is very little to break down in a 100% electric car? No exhaust system, no cooling system, no spark plugs, etc. There is very little to break down. Low maintenance and long lasting parts is more efficient too.

    The cost of batteries and replacing them is significantly less than the routine cost of gasoline or diesel.

    But a 100% electric vehicle is disruptive technology. Consider all the industry built up around internal combustion vehicles. I can't help but think the automotive industry is having a strong influence on supressing 100% electric vehicle technology. (I never watched "Who Killed The Electric Car".) If/when electric vehicles go mainstream, that will be a major shift in industry as there will not be as many repairs needed. Sure, you still need brakes and tires, but not as many parts to be replaced.

    Just a thought. The 100% electric Aptera would be a great thing.

  • Thanks Steve for allowing a little variety in the editorial section. We ll need a change of pace sometimes. Also, some very interesting links.

    Based on what I've seen in the past, I'm guessing that you'll see some colorful replies.

    I'll have to log on suggesting that although I love technology, and although I'd love to see us (the US) be less dependent on foreign oil, I'm not so sure that we're going to come up with any really economical alternatives to oil in the near future. When we let ourselves get frightened by all of the global warming hype, we wind up making corn into ethanol and starting riots in the third world countries where people have the silly notion that corn should be eaten and not burned. Electric? If you recall, we had a major power outage a few years back that knocked out a lot of the northeastern US and some of Canada. Reason? Our power grid system was (and still is) deficient. We're pulling the system down with our air conditioners - Do you know what would happen if we plugged in a few million electric cars? We could solve the problem by building more nuclear plants like France has. That would give us both the power for electric cars and hydrogen for fuel cells (a good use of nuclear stations during non-peak hours would be producing hydrogen). Unfortunately, we then get a whole new group of frightened activists. I'm afraid that oil is going to be around for a while. Conserve? Sure. Invest in alternatives? Sure. But let's still keep an open mind about drilling for our own oil and using proven technologies like nuclear before selling the farm over unproven future tech.

    “Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”

  • Electric Cars. An interesting concept. I think they have their potential. The issue that needs to be recond with is where does the power come from. The only acceptable path is if the car is powered by alternative power in the end. Obviously you cannot make power out of power without losing some... ie: you can't use wind on a car to power the car completely. But with solar and wind and other technologies i would be very willing to have a vehicle that was electric. I refuse however to go electric if i have to plug it into the wall and only go 10 miles between charges. The great wisconsin winters are also hard on storage of electricity. All things to recon with. I hope someone is working towards this...

    Ethanol vs biodiesel. Ethanol is a very lossy conversion. It takes far more fosill fuels to generate a gallon of Ethanol (in the us) than ethanol is worth. The other thing to remember is that if you run ethanol you will get far worse fuel economy. And it is heavily subsidised by the us government. Biodiesel on the other hand is not subsidized. Is only slightly more expensive and you keep the power ratios and efficiencies of diesel.

    With the jetta... I have 65K on my 2006 Jetta TDI (Diesel). The true mileage has been averaged mid 40's however that includes towing a half ton, doing short, long and moderate trips, and always driving like i stole it. I have also gotten as high as 60MPG. based on my average, including an oil change and fuel filters every 10K miles i average approx 11-13 cents per mile. The comparative gas jetta (based on sticker mileage) would be running 14-16 cents per mile at current fuel prices. Given that for the first year and a half diesel was significantly cheaper than gas that means that the shift was more like 6 cents per mile compared to 10 -12 cents per mile.

    People always laugh at me for the price of diesel but twice the mpg of most gassers i can't argue with the memorial day price of 4.79 per gallon of ULSD. Biodiesel is also a great use for waste oil from restaraunts.

    There is a lot there. It is a stepping stone not an end. We need to force the government to give the diesel market the same rights as the gassers. Unfortunately they put their eggs in the ethanol basket.

    ok pulled away... later.

  • Very cool article, except for the "I don't really like the Jetta" which you really didn't explain.

    I love my wife's JETTA, it's a fun drive! The only inexplicable downside is the fact that it doesn't have a lever to recline the seat. My dad drove a Renault when we were growing up (another country) and it had the same wheel on the bottom side of the seat. Bizarre.

  • Making moonshine in your driveway to power a car looks interesting, although it may be tough to keep it from being consumed by people. Great update, I hope my next car is electric. Especially since I drive 10 minutes to and from work every day, and that's about it. My father drives his V8 pickup an hour each way but has noticed that as the price of gas has gone up, there are less cars on the road. I guess the demand for gasoline is at least somewhat elastic.

  • Someguy (5/28/2008)

    I'm afraid that oil is going to be around for a while. Conserve? Sure. Invest in alternatives? Sure. But let's still keep an open mind about drilling for our own oil and using proven technologies like nuclear before selling the farm over unproven future tech.

    I couldn't agree more Someguy!

  • Good thing it was only a two strike because as we all know...three strikes and your out 😀

  • [font="Tahoma"]When calculating the savings for a hybrid, you left out some things.

    How much more is the sales price for the hybrid versus the non-hybrid equivalent? You have to deduct that increased capital cost from your fuel savings.

    If the car is financed, then you have to calculate the total of payments for that additional capital cost, and deduct that from your savings.

    Also, the more things that move, the more failures (i.e. MTBF, maintenance required) there will be, increasing operating costs, which have to be deducted from your fuel savings. You'll see more of that as the mileage increases. You have a gas engine, an electric engine, battery storage, and a generator, meaning more parts to fail and to be maintained.

    It is my hope that as production of these vehicles increases, and the industry gets more experience with producing reliable hybrids, the capital and operating costs will decrease.

    Another perspective is on regular gas and diesel vehicles. Who says gasoline and diesel always has to come from oil drilled from the ground? In the past, alternative biofuels have been expensive to make. Like ethanol, they take more energy to make than the energy that is received when using the fuel. There is a company in Tifton, GA USA (Bell Bio-Energy, Inc.) that has solved that problem. They have discovered (and patented) a process whereby specific microbes that generate the right enzymes are able to create oil from biomass - biomass that is all waste products normally thrown away, not the food stuffs that ethanol creation currently uses. Since the microbes do the work, the energy input is significantly less than other biomass technologies. When this process is extended to full scale production, it will make gasoline and diesel far less expensive to make. That would also remove the incentive for electric cars and hybrids.

    A free market in a capitalist society will always find answers to technological challenges. Government simply cannot do that without screwing things up even worse. A free people are always free to investigate the facts, which is why so many Americans know the whole anthropogenic global climate change issue is a hoax and a myth. Driving a hybrid today makes sense if, when adding up all the costs, it actually saves money without sacrificing safety.[/font]

  • Misconceptions abound about Electric Cars...

    Electric cars can go long distances between charges.

    The distance is directly related to the type and quantity of batteries used. There are lots of choices.

    -The 100% electric Aptera gets what would equate to about 300 mpg.

    Recharging electric cars does not have to be slow.

    I'm forgetting the name of the company, but I recently saw listed in a magazine one pure electric car which you could order today that can charge fully in 10 minutes, and it travels for about 260 to 300 miles between charges. That would certainly cover my daily Wisconsin driving, and I could certainly stand that recharge time.

    Recharging batteries won't sap the electric power grid. It doesn't use anywhere near the power air conditioning uses...not even close. Most people who have and use electric vehicles only notice a couple dollars more on their monthly electric bill...its insignificant.

    Most methods that we produce electricity are more highly regulated and better controlled (producing less pollution) than any other form of power. So using 100% electric vehicles produces less pollution compared to other forms of vehicular power. Hydrogen takes too much power to create and is somewhat dangerous to store. Its amazing how many battery powered devices we use, but we just don't make the leap to use it for vehicles...(probably because the gas powered vehicle industry is so pervasive). Gasoline was a waste product left over from heating fuel production. Electric vehicles were around as long or longer than gasoline vehicles, but the industry drove gasoline (waste product usage) and left the electric vehicle technology to stagnate.

    Electric cars are not slow.

    Again, the speed and acceleration capabilities are directly related to how one builds it...what type and quantity of batteries used.

    This site[/url] lists several types of internal combustion vehicles that have been converted to all electric vehicles. In an electric car there is nothing between standing still and having full power gears to shift through, no revving up the engine...full power is instantly available...yet it is still quite. In fact very few cars can beat the speed of an electric car. Porsche Carrera GT Vs. Electric Car Wrightspeed X1 Also

    As I understand it, Alan Cocconi is the man that GM hired as a consultant to build the EV1. After the EV1, Alan went on to found a company called AC Propulsion which has come up with many excellent electric vehicle technologies. They even came up with a way to take an all electric vehicle on cross-country trips, using a generator in a small, easily maneuverable trailer.

    Basically, 100% electric vehicles are very efficient (if built right) and it is a wonder that we're not producing them more today. It makes you want to convert your own internal combustion engine vehicle to pure electric now. It can be done and many people are doing it today. It's gaining more popularity now. Hybrids still have gasoline components which still break down and continue to promote the internal combustion engine industry. Shifting to 100% electric is a drastic change that will disrupt our current industry.

    Honestly, I think that if you seriously study the technologies, pure electric vehicles would be the choice of most seen by the growing number of people that are converting their ICE vehicles to pure electric vehicles.

  • msbasssinger (5/28/2008)

    [font="Tahoma"]A free people are always free to investigate the facts, which is why so many Americans know the whole anthropogenic global climate change issue is a hoax and a myth.[/font]

    So all these free Americans have investigated and found out what, precisely? That the overwhelming majority of the scientific community is wrong?


  • John Mitchell (5/28/2008)

    msbasssinger (5/28/2008)

    [font="Tahoma"]A free people are always free to investigate the facts, which is why so many Americans know the whole anthropogenic global climate change issue is a hoax and a myth.[/font]

    So all these free Americans have investigated and found out what, precisely? That the overwhelming majority of the scientific community is wrong?


    Wouldn't be the first time. Remember the new Ice Age (global cooling)? Science is not a democracy. Scientists discover things daily that change what they thought was true just moments before.

  • Hydrogen is NOT a power source! No matter how many times you refer to it as such (i.e. everywhere in the referenced article opining that "Hydrogen won't matter for 40 years..", hydrogen is no more a power source than a rubber band is. Yes, a rubber band can power a toy plane, but not before you wind up the rubber band. If you could dig pre-wound rubber bands out of the ground, they would be a source of power. And if you could find free hydrogen on Earth, that would be a source of power, but there is no elemental hydrogen on Earth, and freeing hydrogen from its natural compounds (such as water) always consumes more power than can be obtained by burning the resulting hydrogen fuel.

    Hydrogen might someday become a viable medium for STORING energy, but we have to find a good source of energy to make hydrogen before it hydrogen as a fuel makes any sense at all. And when we find that source, it will still be way more efficient to use it to energize the rail on a public transport system than to squander it on 6000 lb SUVs.

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